Sanchez, Lowe look better in Tigers loss

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Tigers feel a whole lot better these days than they did just a few weeks ago, even after Wednesday’s 7-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

If they can just get two veteran pitchers going, they’ll feel a whole lot better still.

Mark Lowe and Anibal Sanchez took steps in that direction Wednesday.

Sanchez, in his second relief appearance since being removed from the rotation, threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and getting lots of easy outs. Lowe, taking over for Sanchez, allowed a leadoff walk, but then got three easy groundouts for a scoreless inning.

Manager Brad Ausmus had been looking for low-stress situations to use them both, and with the Tigers down five he got a chance.

“He did a nice job. He kept them where they were,” Ausmus said of Sanchez.

Of Lowe, Ausmus said, “He looked a little better, yeah.”

Sanchez, who had a 6.67 ERA in 11 starts before going to the bullpen, threw more curveballs in this outing, and attacked the hitters nicely, catcher James McCann said.

“He wasn’t afraid of contact,” he said.

Sanchez said he’s been working a lot on his mechanics in his side sessions, and is starting to see some progress.

Lowe, who has an 8.05 ERA, reports the same thing.

“Nobody likes to get hit around. The Tigers brought me here to be a threat in the bullpen,” said Lowe, who signed a two-year, $11-million deal in the offseason. “Look in the mirror and say there are some changes that need to be made.

“You can’t be stubborn. You’ve gotta keep your ears open.”

Wednesday’s outing was the first since May 23 in which Lowe didn’t allow a run, and the first since May 20 that he didn’t allow a hit.

Lowe said he appreciates how many people in the Tigers clubhouse are pulling for him to get back on track.

Sustaining momentum

The Tigers won five of seven on the homestand to get back over .500 and within striking distance of first place in the American League Central.

“If you tell me that on every seven-game homestand, we’re gonna win five games,” McCann said, “I’d say that’s a pretty good home record.”

The Tigers embark on a 10-game trip that starts Friday night at Yankee Stadium.

They then visit the Chicago White Sox for three — and should face new White Sox pitcher James Shields — before heading to Kansas City to face the Royals for four.

“That’s a good homestand,” Ausmus said. “Now we need a good road trip. It’s a long trip.”

Said Jordan Zimmermann, Wednesday’s losing pitcher: “This is a big road trip for us. Keep playing the way we’re playing. I’ll bounce back.”

Around the horn

Of reigning A.L. MVP Josh Donaldson’s 56 hits this season, 28 have been for extra bases. The Blue Jays third baseman had a single, triple and homer Wednesday as the Blue Jays finally got to the Tigers pitching.

“Today was their day,” Ausmus said.

... Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey improved to 8-3 lifetime against the Tigers, despite a high ERA and a high WHIP. He allowed nine hits and a walk.

“We’ve gotten Dickey in the past,” said Nick Castellanos, who got him for a two-run homer in the first inning, “but he settled down quite nicely.”

... The Tigers have averaged 5.7 runs a game when Cameron Maybin is in the lineup, and 4.1 runs when he’s not. After getting a shot for his left wrist Monday, he missed the last two starts — though he did pinch run in Tuesday’s game. Ausmus said he’ll be back in there Friday night.

... In the latest American League All-Star voting update, the Tigers don’t have any projected starters. Miguel Cabrera is second among first basemen, Castellanos is fourth among third baseman, Victor Martinez is fourth at DH, and Ian Kinsler is fifth among second basemen.